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Training the human body to maintain higher metabolism a difficult goal, study

Posted:  Friday, November 14, 2014

The biggest goal before a weight watcher is to jack up their metabolism for future maintenance. However, a recent study revealed that an increase in metabolism is solely linked to a high protein diet and that the body can’t be trained to maintain a higher metabolism after cessation of the high protein diet.

These findings were presented at The Obesity Society Annual Meeting at Obesity Week in Boston. The study was conducted to investigate whether consuming excess calories while on a high or low protein diet could lead to less weight gain due to the body’s ability to burn extra energy with a high protein diet.

The researchers carried out a randomised controlled overfeeding trial of 16 healthy individuals by feeding them with low (5%), normal (15%) or high (25%) amounts of protein for 8 weeks while living in a metabolic ward. Diet-induced thermogenesis (DIT), one of the three components for the metabolic rate, was also measured over four hours by indirect calorimetry following meals.

The researchers found that all the participants gained similar amounts of weight regardless of the diet composition. However, the researchers observed a difference in the way the body stored excess calories. Those consuming normal and high protein diets stored 45% of the excess calories as lean tissue or muscle mass, while those on the low protein diet stored 95% of the excess calories as fat.

Further, the researchers reported higher metabolism on high protein or normal protein diet compared to low protein diet. However, the increase in metabolism on high protein diet is not sustainable when normal-protein diet is resumed. This suggests that the human body cannot be trained to maintain a higher metabolism.

Commenting on the study Steven Smith, the President of The Obesity Society said- "High-protein diets for weight-loss or to build muscle mass can certainly be effective, but the diet composition must be maintained for dieters to continue to see and sustain results."

According to the researchers, high protein diets such as Atkins or Ideal protein probably contribute to weight loss by causing an increase in the natural process of metabolising food for energy following meals. The findings of this study reinforce the basic principle of creating an energy deficit for weight loss. A high protein diet could be beneficial in building muscles mass, but energy balance plays an even greater role in weight control.

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